Boston played host to the TD Garden’s best ever clash of star-studded of 19-year-olds when Anthony Edwards and the Wolves rolled into Beantown on Friday night to take on Jayson Tatum and the Celtics on the heels of one of its more disappointing games of the season in a loss to
Jesus Christ TJ McConnell and the short-handed Pacers on Wednesday.
For those hoping to spend their Friday night watching stars come out in full force, this game had everything you could dream of.
Tatum erupted against a lackluster Minnesota defense for a career-high 53 (!) points on 16/25 shooting and 15/16 from the charity stripe.
Marcus Smart was a pest on Karl-Anthony Towns in the second half defensively, but also poured in 24 points of his own, which were often timely buckets that kept Boston within striking distance after a disastrous first quarter. Jaylen Brown was tremendous as well, specifically as a clutch shot-maker. He and his 26 points killed Minnesota from in the mid-range in the third quarter and from deep in the fourth quarter.
On the Wolves’ side of the house, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell displayed all the reasons why Gersson Rosas has full belief in them to turn this franchise around, and it started in an impressive first quarter.
KAT came out of the gates swinging, scoring 10 points on 4/5 FG, to go along with five rebounds and two assists in what was an excellent start for the Wolves, especially defensively. Minnesota collected five steals in the first quarter alone, which helped crank up the pace to the Wolves’ liking; it was arguably the quickest and crispest the team has looked all season when kicking into overdrive. It showed on the scoreboard, as Minnesota led 39-25 after one.
After struggling to play at the tempo Ryan Saunders wanted the Wolves to play at before his injury, Russell looked very comfortable conducting a train flying down the tracks. He had five assists and zero turnovers in the first half, setting the table for Towns, Edwards and Juancho Hernangomez, who got off to a quick start while playing alongside the All-Star point guard.
The highlight of the first half came when Josh Okogie continued Minnesota hoopers’ poor collective relationship with the Kardashian family and buried Tristan Thompson in the ground with an emphatic throwdown.
Okogie was excellent all night long defensively, as he had four steals, but he was very productive on offense as well. The Wolves’ energizer bunny had a season-high 16 points on 6/11 FG (two of which he got fouled on) and 2/4 from deep, which adds a whole new element to what Minnesota can do rotation-wise.
Being able to play Okogie and McDaniels together is such a massive weapon for Minnesota.— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) April 10, 2021
Having two extremely viable wing defenders that can put pressure on the rim, rebound and run in transition gives Chris Finch a lot of looks he can throw at opponents on both ends
Okogie and McDaniels are both excellent cutters who can curl off cuts and catch laser passes before finishing inside or kicking the ball back out to shooters. When they share the floor, KAT can quarterback the offense from the perimeter, the post or the paint, because they can both cut very well. Even better, when a lineup of Russell, Edwards, Okogie, McDaniels and Towns plays together, there’s so much spacing that defenses can’t afford to double Towns without giving up a wide open look somewhere else.
The fun stopped there, for the most part, as Boston got rolling in the second half. Thanks to Tatum’s 30 second-half points, and clutch shooting from Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, Boston erased a 17-point Minnesota lead with 8:21 left in the third quarter by the 9:54 mark in the fourth. Smart played excellent defense on Towns, who scored just four points in the third quarter, which was a major factor in the Celtics’ turnaround, too.
Throughout the Wolves’ meltdown in the third quarter, it was evident Chris Finch didn’t do anything to help his team out.
Chris Finch decides to go to the optimal closing lineup, but not until the game is essentially over.— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) April 10, 2021
He also didn't feel like calling a timeout as the Minnesota lead slipped away in front of him.
Tonight is the first loss he has brought upon his team.
Finch let a lineup of Ricky Rubio, Edwards, McDaniels, Hernangomez and Towns play far too long without getting both Russell and Okogie in for Rubio and Hernangomez, respectively. Rubio hasn’t earned much of any of the rope he gets at the end of games in regard to constantly being handed a spot in the closing lineup. Tonight, he was excellent in the first half, but his shot selection and defense in the second half was actively hurting Minnesota.
Finally, Finch had both Russell and Okogie into the game by the 3:30 mark, trailing by 11. From there, the D-Lo party got started and things got interesting again. D-Lo scored 11 of the Wolves 13 points in the final 2:42, including this crazy shot to send things to overtime.
Down by 11 with 2:42 left, D'Angelo Russell led the Wolves on a 13-2 run to force OT. pic.twitter.com/ugvPGvfg5o— Alan Horton (@WolvesRadio) April 10, 2021
The wheels came off in the second half of the overtime period, as Minnesota gave up a 19-9 run coming home over the last 3:52 and ultimately fell 145-136.
There was plenty to be excited about, despite the blown 17-point lead and unfortunate loss in overtime.
- Minnesota went blow-for-blow with a battle-tested group of offensive studs with playoff experience together.
- The Wolves core scored 80 points on 27/52 (52%) playing off one another beautifully
- The KAT/D-Lo PnR battery was electric down the stretch of the fourth, which got the Wolves to overtime on the road against a playoff team
- Anthony Edwards again showed that he can be efficient when playing with two other offensive stars that also need touches
- Jaden McDaniels and Josh Okogie looked every bit of a formidable defensive wing duo, despite Tatum’s huge night. They each had several defensive highlight plays individually and played well tonight.
The Wolves will next take on the Bulls, who lost tonight despite a 50-piece from Zach LaVine, on Sunday at Target Center.